Since 9/11 there have been more than 2 million men and women who have served and defended our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. These brave warriors volunteered to do a job knowing they would be put in harm's way. You would think that as they come home and look to re-establish themselves into the civilian world that employers would be lining up to hire them, and many are, but there is still a 12 percent unemployment rate for veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Luckily, there are some tremendous efforts underway to address the problem, and this is one that all Americans seem to be willing to band together and address. Just this week, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden hosted guests at the White House to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Joining Forces Initiative they launched last year. Since the program started, there have been more than 50,000 veterans and military spouses who have found jobs with a great group of supporting companies.
In March, Milicruit, MOAA, DirectEmployers Association and 20 leading employers started the 10,000 Jobs for Veterans and Military Spouses Challenge. As the name implies, the goal is to find at least 10,000 jobs for the veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013. There have already been more than 19,00 that have found jobs with the employers who are signed on for the challenge. As part of this challenge, Milicruit and MOAA will now host nationwide virtual career fairs on a monthly basis starting in May, and will also host a dedicated virtual career fair for military spouses on May 7.
The Department of Defense has launched an outstanding program Hero 2 Hired that allows employers to post their jobs for free, and also allows the service member to search for jobs with all the employers by location, job title, and even their military occupation code or specialty MOS/MOC.
There is no shortage of programs to tackle this problem, but it is up to all of us in the private and public sector to reach out to the military community and let them know that we are grateful for their service, and more importantly, we recognize and value all the skills, training, and education they bring to any organization.
I have said many times before, that if the Fortune 1,000 simply agreed to hire 10 veterans this year, the unemployment rate for veterans would virtually disappear. Hiring veterans and military spouses is not only the right and morale thing to do, but it is a great business decision.
They have done their part for all of us, and now it is our turn to step up and let them know that we are here for them. Every employer we speak with tells us they would welcome more veterans in their workforce, but I encourage you to seek them out. Take a few minutes and evaluate the person, not just the resume. These men and women are exactly what make this country great, and they would make a fine addition to your team.